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Friday, March 14, 2014

The Beauty of Brown Pastels

'Nestled'            10x10         pastel           ©Karen Margulis
available for purchase $145
 I feel bad about it.  Maybe I was a bit too harsh. There really is nothing wrong with the color brown.  I just wanted to encourage my students to look for colors other than 'crayon brown' for their tree trunks.  So I said I never used brown pastels. I need to clarify that statement.

I think Brown is a beautiful color. My Siamese cats are brown. Chocolate is brown. Brown is a rich comforting color.  But....when I think of painting things that are considered brown I rarely reach for the brown in the pastel set that looks like the brown crayon in a box of Crayolas. It is hard to resist. After all....this is the color we grew up with. If it was brown this is the color we reached for. It is hard to break this habit.

'Gently into Spring'         5x7       pastel
click here to purchase $45
Brown is not always Brown!

 It's all how you look at it.  If the local color of something is brown. I ask myself what kind of brown is it?  Is it a warmish brown? Does it look orange or yellowish?  Maybe it is a coolish brown. Can a see it leaning towards blue, green or maybe purple?  Brown is more than crayon brown. I will often use brown pastels but I never think of them as brown. I think of them as a dark orange or maybe a dark ochre yellow.  My nest paintings are brown but they are painted with many different browns.

Some Brown Pastels
Sometimes I challenge myself to try other colors as a substitute for brown. I do this often for animal fur. My Siamese cats have brown fur but I use mauves, greens and purples to paint it.

Brown Subsitutes
Tree trunks can be more interesting when painted with colors other than brown. Does the trunk look blue or maybe purple?  Does it look more orange or yellow? I look for a mix of colors and values to suggest brown without taking out that one crayon brown pastel that calls out to me!  I resist the temptation!

Tree trunks aren't always just brown!


Sandi Graham said...

Painting some brown and white cows ...they won't be brown now ...!

Judy Baker said...

Great post! I needed this. Love the colors you have shown here. Thanks!